Swimming Through Texas: Watch and Learn from the Pros

This is a post from YoungTri Contributor Patrick LaBrode

This past weekend the Lee and Joe-Jamail Texas Swimming Center (where the UT team swims) hosted the 2014 Austin Grand Prix. The Grand Prix is a series of meets that take place throughout the year. The meets are all long course meters, and they pull in a competitive field.

There were many Olympians, American record holders, World record holders, and rising stars that raced in the pool I train in daily! Many athletes think the only way to improve in their events is by practicing more and training harder. But — people are also great visual learners! That is why our coach told my team to stay after practice on Friday to watch these incredible and successful athletes compete. By focusing on their starts, stokes, turns, and race strategies, we took mental notes to hold onto so the next time we are in the water, we can work on perfecting our swims.

The Grand Prix Meet!

The Grand Prix Meet!

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to swim at such an amazing pool that host many national events, and bring in so many star swimmers to watch. Although your pool may not host meets like the Grand Prix, I’m sure there are races not too far away that you can watch and learn from! You can also learn by watching your teammates practice and compete. Almost every day I am watching my other teammate’s strokes and turns to try and see what they are doing different than me, to try and improve myself!

And this doesn’t only apply to swimmers. Triathletes can highly benefit by watching triathlons – whether in person or on television. When I was competing in triathlons, I loved to volunteer at races. I was able to get in some community service hours and watch and learn from some great racing!

Good luck swimmers as the short course season begins to come to a close, we are almost there! Stay tuned for more!


Learning from Sophomore Fall Stress at UT!

This is a post from YoungTri Contributor Patrick LaBrode

“The only thing holding you back is what’s between your ears.”

This quote defines my sophomore fall 2013 semester.  I had the hardest class schedule so far during my time at the University of Texas, and on top of that, the swim practices grew tougher as well. This semester was full of highs, and many lows, but finally finishing and looking back, it was an amazing learning experience.

I was nervous for this semester in the beginning because I was taking a tough courseload that had me in class on Mondays from 8am to 1pm, no breaks. And Tuesday nights I had a lab from 6pm to 10pm. I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance my swim/school schedule at first.

However, having an entire year’s worth of college swimming under my belt definitely made a difference this fall. This season I can finally push myself harder than what is expected, instead of being in “survival mode,” like I was during my freshman year! I was also swimming faster times in meets than I was a year ago, so I was stoked about that.

My fall semester was still enjoyable - despite the highs and lows!

My fall semester was still enjoyable – despite the highs and lows!

But, like with any years — lows came with some of the highs that accompanied my settling into the swim team. With the stress from class and my grades, (which were lower than what I hold myself to) I had a couple of break down points. Including our mid-season taper meet, the Texas Invitational.

This meet (early December) was supposed to be a really fast meet for all of us — and I was hoping to go best times early on in the season. I was feeling great going into it, but that week I ended up having 4 exams. So I spent the majority of the week stressing, studying, and not sleeping. It was a bad combo, and my body felt the effects from it. I began having really bad acid reflux and trouble breathing and my stroke broke down. Needless to say, it was probably one of the worst swim meets I’ve ever had.

Although it was disappointing, I am (thankfully) pretty good at putting bad swims behind me. And I had finals the next week, so I had to focus on those — and didn’t have time to dwell on the past. I studied all week for finals and my grades came out a lot better than I had expected. And my swimming continued to improve as the semester went on from my newfound balance and focus.

Great to be back with my family over break!

Great to be back with my family over break!

Looking back on my semester, I realized I was always just a couple steps behind in my classes, always struggling to catch up. If I had put in the work early on (like I did at the end of the semester) my GPA, swimming, and self would have been much better! Through this experience, I realized that it’s important when you find yourself struggling with school and training to sit down, breathe, and write down a plan for yourself. You may be holding yourself back and be further along than you think 🙂

Here’s to a relaxing break and great spring semester!

-Patrick LaBrode

Just Freestyle? No Way! {Try this Mixed Stroke Set for a Great Workout!}


My teammates and me at a district champ meet last year!

Many triathletes tend to focus on just freestyle. “Why wouldn’t you?” You say, “You’re only going to be racing freestyle during a triathlon, so there’s no reason to practice other strokes.”

While it’s true that you won’t be swimming fly, back, or breast during a triathlon, it is still beneficial to practice other strokes! Mixing up strokes during practice keeps the body balanced and even and uses different muscles that you use during the bike and the run.

Although you may not be as good at the other three strokes as you are at freestyle, practicing them a couple times a week will greatly improve your strength and overall swimming skills!

IM/Freestyle set:

4x200s as 100 free, 100back with 20 seconds between each 200

Kick set:
8x100s kick as 50free kick/50 fly back or Brest kick. Rest 15 seconds between each 100

Free/IM main set:
4x100s freestyle moderate pace
50 easy
3x100s freestyle moderate pace, 1×100 IM fast!
50 easy
2x100s freestyle moderate pace
2×100 IMs fast!
50 easy
1×100 freestyle moderate
3×100 IMs fast!
50 easy
4×100 IMs FAST

Warm down! Great job!!


There’s No Time to Be Lazy or Crazy!

Most of y’all have finished (or are finishing) your triathlon season. Now it’s time to relax and take a couple of weeks off to rest, enjoy summer, and prepare for school. Although rest weeks are an athletes favorite weeks of the year, rest does not mean it’s time to be lazy!

The main objective during your rest period is recovery! You have just finished months and months of your hardest training, pushing your body to tough limits, wearing and tearing your muscles, and now it’s time to recover and let your muscles build back up and be ready for next season. Some athletes believe their rest week involves eating a bunch of junk, staying up super late, and laying on the couch all day. That may be an athlete’s dream, but that is the wrong way to recover – because it can have negative effects on your overall health and future training.

Enjoy your rest period, but don't be a couch potato for too long!

Enjoy your rest period, but don’t be a couch potato for too long!

During your rest period you still need to be on a good sleep schedule, eating healthy, stay somewhat active! Staying on a good sleep schedule will allow your muscles to rebuild and help your energy levels fill up. Spending every nigh staying up till 3am and sleeping all day will lead you into a bad start of your next season. Eating healthy will aid in both muscles and energy and keep you from adding a couple of pounds during your break — and the last thing you want to do is come back into training stiff as a board!

Staying active will keep you in decent shape and keep your muscles loose. Some ways to stay active on break without doing tough workouts could include: doing yoga, playing tennis, golfing, playing ultimate frisbee, going on walks, doing abs, stretching, or anything else you enjoy!

It’s not bad to stay up late with friends, eat a big bowl of ice cream, or spend a day on the couch, as long as you do that in moderation. Maybe stay up late on saturday night and relax on Sundays but don’t repeat it too much during the week – find a plan that works for you. By staying active, eating healthy, and sleeping well, you’ll be going into your next triathlon season on top and ready to achieve your goals!

-Patrick LaBrode, YoungTri Executive Board Member